8o A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
the world-scorning life of such a prophet; there was a Frenchwoman in the European quarter who quite easily read print through heavily bandaged eyes when she was put into the hypnotic trance state; there was a queer old man who lived with his followers in a great house adjoining an immense mosque, and who was so lost to this world that he spent almost the whole of his time audibly conversing with spirits; there was a brave and bold lady who had defied King Ibn Saud's ban and had secretly taken cinema pictures of holy Mecca, but who was now engaged in studying sacred matters under angelic teachers; there was the famous fakir, Tahra Bey, who thought nothing of sticking a dagger through his own throat or stabbing his chest just above the heart, but who emerged unbloodied and unharmed from these unpleasant operations; and there were a few others who caught my interest and engaged my attention. If I cannot write about them all in the space at my command, at least I can give some of them this fleeting record of a paragraph.
There was another phase of Cairene life, too, which attracted me much and that was its religious side, because it had been the focal point for Muhammedan culture for over a thousand years. So little does the average Westerner know of the great religion of Islam, so distorted are his conceptions of it, that I have thought it worth while to devote an entire chapter to describing Islam as I found it.
The wizard who did the strange thing with the fowl will have to remain nameless in this record, because I have given a promise to a high Egyptian Government official not to bestow personal publicity upon him. The reasons for this request need not be entered into here, but I accept them as sufficient and so I shall let him remain incognito and also withdraw the excellent photographs which I had secured of the wizard, his house and his feat.
I discovered him, one sultry afternoon, after numerous enquiries and frequent prowling. I had walked through a main street still flagged with ancient stones; turned aside into that noisy, closely packed, narrow-alleyed, picturesque ancient Quarter which lies between the El Azhar Mosque and the dismal cemetery of Bab el Wazir. A train of camels had come